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Early Monday morning, Oct. 19, the world hit another sobering statistic that is nearly lost in the cacophony of the 2020 election campaigns. We surpassed 40 million cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19 across the globe, not long after the U.S. surpassed eight million cases.

The U.S. now accounts for one-fifth of the COVID-19 cases in the world. So far, the U.S., Brazil, and India are reporting by far the highest numbers of cases. Much of the increase in recent weeks has been driven by a surge in Europe. But experts fear that with 38 of the 50 states reporting surges in COVID-19 cases, the U.S. is heading into its third peak this year. They  say that as cold descends and we all head indoors, the next six to 12 weeks could be the darkest of this pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, which is the acknowledged global statistical resource on COVID, collecting data from around the world, the actual worldwide figure of COVID-19 cases is likely to be far higher. Testing country-by-country has been variable, many people have had no symptoms and some governments have concealed the true number of cases. To date, more than 1.1 million confirmed virus deaths have been reported. As of today, the U.S. has topped more than 220,000 deaths. We only reached 200,000 on Sept. 23.

Map showing the severity of COVID-19 state-by-state. Source: WAMO 88.5 University Radio

The U.S. and large swaths of the world are reporting a surge in cases; with some states such as North Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa reportedly major surges that are taxing their health care systems.

In Wisconsin, a 500-bed emergency medical unit has been set up on the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds. North Dakota reports that it has only 20 ICU beds left in the state and is sending COVID cases to Minnesota.

Colorado COVID-19 cases are rising as well, with the largest increases in cases since last may. With social distancing and facemask orders in place (including Governor Jared Polis’s order to wear facemasks outside when in public) the state is attempting to slow the surge. Counties throughout the state from Mesa to Jefferson counties are beginning to tighten restrictions on both indoor and outdoor group sizes.

The governor recently reiterated his concern about the rise in cases and in hospitalizations. The state has already submitted its coronavirus vaccination plan to the federal Centers for Disease Control. This past weekend, the Director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci went on record saying he thought the country may have a vaccination solution by April, 2021.

The Colorado plan prioritizes who would get the vaccine first. Health care workers are at the top of the list. An important detail; most potential vaccines will require two shots.